"It is not an overstatement to say that without John Ellis and Howard Lincoln, the Seattle Mariners would not be here today, two-games back in the Wild Card race and playing some of the most exciting September games in franchise history. They both played a key role in the formation of the current ownership group that purchased the Mariners in 1992 and blocked the team's relocation to Tampa. They literally helped save baseball in Seattle and built a strong foundation for the team's current success with their hard work and dedication over the last quarter century," said John Stanton, Seattle Mariners Chair and CEO.
Ellis used his deep corporate and civic connections to help bring together a group of 16 investors from technology and telecommunications, including Nintendo and Microsoft. Lincoln, who was then a senior executive at Nintendo of America, played a key role in persuading Hiroshi Yamauchi, then-president of Nintendo Company, Limited, to purchase a majority interest in the team. At the time, Mr. Yamauchi stated that he agreed to the deal as a "gesture of goodwill to the citizens of the Pacific Northwest."
Ellis became the first Chairman and CEO under the new owners. He served in that capacity from June 29, 1992 until September 27, 1999, when he was named Chairman Emeritus.
Lincoln succeeded Ellis as Chair and CEO of the Mariners in 2000 after retiring as Chairman of Nintendo of America. Lincoln retired from the Mariners in August and shares the title of Chairman Emeritus with Ellis.
During their 24 years in leadership roles, the Mariners won three Division titles (1995, 1997, 2001), made three trips to the American League Championship Series (1995, 2000, 2001), and tied a Major League mark for most wins in a season in 2001 with a record of 116-46. Community and fan support improved enormously during that period with attendance soaring from 1.65 million in 1992 to 3.54 million in 2002. The crowning achievement of Ellis's leadership was the construction of Safeco Field, widely regarded as one of the best ballparks in baseball.
Their tenure is also notable for the stability the current ownership group brought to a franchise that had three owners during its first 15 years. Today, the Mariners group is one of the longest serving ownerships in Major League Baseball.
A native of Seattle and a life-long baseball fan, Ellis began his professional career as a lawyer with Perkins Coie in 1953. He joined Puget Sound Power & Light Company (now Puget Sound Energy) in 1970, where he served variously as President, CEO and Chairman until his retirement in 1993.
Lincoln received his law degree from the University of California School of Law and served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps from 1966-1970. He practiced law in Seattle from 1970-1983, when he joined Nintendo of America as senior vice president and general counsel.
Service to community is important to both Ellis and Lincoln. Among Ellis's numerous awards and honors are the 1992 A.K. Guy Award by the YMCA of Greater Seattle for outstanding community service (with his brother Jim); Seattle's First Citizen Award in 1987, presented by the Seattle-King County Board of Realtors; The Citizen of the Year Award in 1984 from the Municipal League of Seattle and King County; the Frederick T. Haley Leadership in Education Award in 1989. He was inducted into Seattle's Franklin High School Hall of Fame in 1992.
Lincoln is the former chairman and trustee of the Seattle Children's Hospital Foundation and a former trustee of Western Washington University. Lincoln was the 2003-2004 chair of the United Way of King County campaign.